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Brewers remain involved in market for Zack Wheeler, have inquired on Keone Kela

The team continues to search for upgrades to a beleaguered pitching staff.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Even after acquiring old friend Jordan Lyles, the Milwaukee Brewers continue to be on the hunt for further additions to their pitching staff. Reports from yesterday continued to link the team to left-hander Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and rumors continued to swirl today as we are now less than 24 hours away from the single July 31st trade deadline at 3:00 PM central.

According to New York beat reporter Andy Martino, the Brewers remain involved in the bidding for Zack Wheeler of the Mets. The club has been linked to Wheeler throughout the summer, and David Stearns and company have previously been connected to the New York hurler this past winter and during last summer’s trade season. For the season the right-handed rental owns a less-than-stellar 4.71 ERA in 124.1 innings pitched, but advanced metrics remain similarly bullish on him as they were during his breakthrough 2018 season. FIP- (84) and DRA- (69) both see him as a well above-average performer this year, thanks to his ability to miss bats (9.92 K/9) and limit both walks (2.46 BB/9) and hard contact (33.9%). Martino characterizes the Astros as the favorites to land Wheeler, but other reports have Houston still exploring deals for the likes of Matthew Boyd, Trevor Bauer, and Madison Bumgarner as well.

Robert Murray of The Athletic reports that the Slingin’ Stearns has also checked in with the Pirates regarding reliever Keone Kela, though he adds that no deal is imminent and other teams remain involved in negotiations. This is the first time that the Brewers have been linked to the 26 year old right-hander. Kela has been one of the better relievers in the big leagues since debuting with the Rangers back in 2015; in parts of five season, he owns a 3.43 ERA in 199.2 innings with a 77 FIP- and 81 DRA-. The hard-throwing right hander generally creates plenty of whiffs, having struck out an average of 11.04 K/9 versus 3.43 BB/9.

But Kela has missed a good chunk of this season with right shoulder inflammation and though his 3.68 ERA through 17 games and 14.2 innings looks solid enough, the underlying numbers are a touch concerning. Kela has lost about a tick of his fastball since last season, down to 96.2 MPH, and his curveball is also down by over a mile-and-a-half per hour to 81.9 MPH. His current 8.8% swinging strike rate would be by far his lowest as a big leaguer, as would his 9.20 K/9 rate. FIP- (116) and DRA- (112) are rather bearish on his work during 2019’s small sample. Kela is earning a $3.175 mil base salary this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining in 2020 before becoming a free agent.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus